eBook Add-on

Today we’re launching a new Labs feature, eBook Export! This lets readers download your entire blog or a group of hashtagged posts as an eBook.

This is an early look at the feature with just the basics (see below). But we’re releasing it now so you can try it out and help us improve it for everyone.

We’re also trying something a little different this time. Since this is a feature we think people will find really useful as it grows, we’re charging a small one-time fee ($10) for it. This means you can get it even without a Pro subscription, and as a bonus, you won’t have to pay anything else as the feature gets better over time (and the price increases).

This acts as a kind of a “mini crowdfunding campaign” for us. Your contribution will show us how important the feature is, and help fund development, while giving you immediate access to what we’ve created so far.

(Of course, if this is something you really want to give feedback on, but can’t afford right now, I totally understand. Just let us know @support and we’ll give you access.)

How-to

Once you’ve enabled eBook export, you can add .epub to your blog URLs to download the collection of posts as an ePub file. For example, you can download our official blog here: https://write.as/blog/.epub

If you want all posts tagged #Updates, you’d find that here: https://write.as/blog/tag:Updates.epub

Uses

This only enables new download URLs on all of your blogs. Next, you might want to create a new static page titled “Downloads” and link to the various blog-generated eBooks you’d like to make available to readers.

Future

Our goal is to make this add-on into a full eBook creator, with just enough customization to be widely useful, but not so much that it becomes unwieldy. Some future options we can imagine today:

  • Export as PDF and plain HTML files (with table of contents, cover, etc.)
  • Respect blog’s Display Format setting for post ordering and whether or not to show dates
  • Display the exported date
  • Cover customization
  • Edit metadata like author name, description, etc.
  • A few different layout options

Feedback

What do you think so far? What would you like to see next?

We plan to build this entirely around your feedback, so please feel free to share any thoughts you have!

7 Likes

Wow! This looks fantastic. Excellent for three of my four sites. I need to puzzle out the details when I have time. Thanks!

1 Like

Taking a look at what happened – just a second.

I want to make a pinned post/title go directly to a link (which I’ve yet to successfully do). Can I do this? How? The link for the whole blog is CatholicHalos.org.epub, correct?

Initial impressions:

  • I love that it puts first posts first. Great call, even on a blog that shows most recent posts at the top.
  • Great and simple look and feel the the eBook.
  • .mobi files as request for future (vote for, presuming it’s already on the list)
  • Overall impression: simple and elegant and easy. Thank you!

With abandon,
Patrick

2 Likes

Close! The entire link will be https://catholichalos.org/.epub

You can do this! What you’ll do is first create an empty post titled “Ebook” and pin it to your blog. Then go to your blog’s Customize settings. Scroll down to “Custom JavaScript” and add the following:


const pinned = document.querySelector('a[href*="https://catholichalos.org/ebook"]');
pinned.href = 'https://catholichalos.org/.epub';


Once you save the changes, the pinned “Ebook” page should go directly to the correct ebook link!

2 Likes

Old dog, new tricks! All three blogs in need of ebook options now ebooked! Thanks @cjeller1592 and @matt!

With abandon,
Patrick

2 Likes

Nice! Been looking forward to this feature for a long time, as I want to make some sort of book out of the TMO blog. I will definitely be using this, and providing feedback very soon :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Oops. I saw it backwards. Is it possible to have a setting so that posts publish to the eBook in Chronological order rather than the order they appear on the blog from top to bottom?

Yep! Definitely makes more sense that way. Just sent out some new changes:

  • Posts in the eBook are now in chronological order
  • Pinned posts will show up first, before other blog posts

Tried using the feature, receive this: 404 page not found
or

{“code”:500,“error_msg”:“This is an unhelpful error message for a miscellaneous internal error.”}

Yes, what worked on my blogs yesterday now gives: “{“code”:500,“error_msg”:“This is an unhelpful error message for a miscellaneous internal error.”}” Something broke.

Can you both try again @processimagining and @DeaconPatrick? Should work now – just working out some kinks with our update process.

Works for me now! Thank you, @matt! Chronological order and pinned posts first looks great! Wish list: Table of contents?

1 Like

Definitely, table of contents would be a nice addition. Will get that on the list.

1 Like

Wow, this looks really promising and a very nice addition. Great! I will def try this as soon as (and come back with nothing but cheers or wish list thingies, or both!).

1 Like

This looks very good! And it is very smart to offer all those people the opportunity to bundle all their poems or proza in an ebook.

Is it possible to extend the css for ebooks a little, just as it is customizable for the website? I know one can do this manually in for example the ebook editor of Calibre. (I tried this, and it works.) But it would be nice to be able to style the ebook a little more, so that it is automatically updated everytime the ebook is generated.

3 Likes

Further suggestions:

  • categorize pinned posts as “front matter” and posts as “chapters” (this is the language used on Pressbooks.com, perhaps industry standard?). Some of my pinned posts are front, others back matter, but putting them all as front covers it without adding complexity. Come to think of it, they could all be back matter too.
  • Set “landing page” when first opening it to the first chapter, skipping the front matter.
1 Like

First off, thanks to @matt and the team for adding this feature to Write.as. I got really excited when I read the email from @cjeller1592 . And, in the last 24 or so hours, a few of the little annoyances that I noticed have been fixed.

I just wanted to share a couple or three thoughts and things I’ve noticed while playing with the EPUB export today:

  1. Would it be possible to exclude pinned pages from the output?

  2. Is there a way to use a site’s custom CSS to format the EPUB, and then fall back to the CSS file that EPUB generator uses?

  3. Matt’s original announcement in the forum mentioned that the EPUB export is better suited to text-only blogs/sites. But I noticed that with one or two of the desktop ebook readers I used, images on a page display. But when I open an EPUB in the Sigil ebook editor, this message displays:

    sigil-writes.as-epub

    That error is caused by the img tag on pages, which isn’t properly formed (either in the EPUB or on Write.as). The closing / of the tag is missing in both. In Sigil and one of the EPUB readers I tested, an error message displays at the top of a page containing an image.

  4. When then EPUB downloads (at least when using Firefox), the file name is the first word of a site’s or blog’s name/title and the .EPUB extension isn’t added to the file name. I know there’s nothing you can do about that, but just a heads up.

I plan to keep fiddling (including on my phone and a tablet). But this is a great addition to Write.as, and as others have pointed out looks really promising.

1 Like